Breaking Up With School.

Dear School —

First off, is it alright if I call you that? Would you prefer something different? Perhaps University. Institutionalized Education. Backbreaking Judger of Merit Based Success.

What’s that? You’re not a being capable of thought-based response? Ironic, considering you demand so much of that from me. Oh, that’s just like you. Nevertheless, I’ll continue my letter to you — I want to air things out. Get them out in the open before we’re done.

The thing is, School, we’re breaking up in just under three weeks — 20 days, to be precise. I’m looking forward to it. I crave it, like a backwards addict to a vice, I want nothing more than to be away from you. I apologize if that hurts you to hear but I must be frank with this. You’ve taken so much from me.

My time. My money. At moments, my creativity and my sanity.

You’ve followed me — don’t even try to deny it. I saw you lurking in the shadows all those sultry summer afternoons. You thought I’d forgotten, hadn’t you? You thought you could sneak up on me, make things better. Admittedly, I often fell into the trap. Months away from you and I’d forget exactly why I was so eager to leave in the first place. I’ve come back time and time again, drawn to your tantalizing charm, but this is it. The end. I swear it. (Probably.)

I won’t deny that we’ve had good times. Beautiful times, even.

You introduced me to brilliant souls, new ideas, and opinions I had never considered. I’ve met people through you who have influenced my life and made me feel so welcomed, so loved beyond what I ever imagined or expected. Even when you and I were at odds, they were always there. Encouraging me, even when I didn’t know how I could possibly make it through another day.

Remember when we took that trip abroad last year? I haven’t forgotten the euphoric sense of belonging I felt there, with you. Your system was different. We understood each other — spent countless hours pouring into each other at libraries and coffee shops. You the knowledge, me the effort, the task of finding something new that you had to offer and conveying it in a clear way. It was a high, an incredible high. But I’ve come down, School, for worse or for better.

I’ve taken you for granted, at times. I know that. There were nights you were just too much — a rain of fire, burning up the recesses of my mind. I escaped in the typical ways women and men before me have, mindless distractions and bottles you can’t carry in public. I won’t pretend I’m unique in this. I’m no saint. I know there were times I could have — should have — given you more but didn’t. Times you were there waiting and I ignored you.

I would apologize, but you’re not real. Your an idea, an institution, a schedule, a system. I’m not sorry for the times I neglected you for the actual human relationships in my life. I know you kept tallies of these moments, registering them as failures, as data that did not factor into the algorithm of your expectations. That’s okay. Neither of us suffered incredibly for the losses.

I’m getting wary of this letter, School, and anyways, you’re waiting for me, even now as I write this. 20 more days. I need time away — time to find out who I am without you here. You’ve been in my life for so many years. Longer than almost anything.

I want you to know that for all the hell you’ve given me, all the late nights, early mornings, tear-filled schedules and cluttered mind spaces, I will miss you, and I am incredibly indebted to you (literally and metaphorically). You’ve doubtlessly played a part in forming who I am today, and for that I am immensely grateful, even if it was a painful process.

Maybe we’ll meet again later in life — I’ve heard some people like you better without all those gen eds. Until then, I’ll be counting down the days until I can recreationally read through the Harry Potter series again, and perhaps, if I’m lucky, strike up something new with a system called Career.

Sincerest Regards,

Kristy Kiefer

(Let the record show that for all the sarcastic ranting in this letter, I am so thankful to have had the opportunities I’ve had throughout my education. I’m not ignorant of the privilege that comes with it, and I appreciate it, truly.)

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